Art Basel Miami Beach | Under Construction
December 4, 2008
Maybe it’s a reflection of the current economic black cloud — with the construction of ubiquitous luxury buildings coming to a near inevitable halt — but what I can best describe as “construction-chic art” events are all the rage. During Frieze, White Cube threw an infamously wild party at an under-construction Georgian town house in Soho; now Joseph Cayre’s Midtown Miami development is the venue for an exhibition project taking place this week.
The framework of the project was both the particular nature of the space in which it’s being held — the Cayre development is in a transition period between construction and usable retail/residential lots — and the small window of time that Momin and Lowman said they had to plan and install. But somehow the show does not come across as slapdash or superficial but fastidiously detailed and full of a grassroots splendor.
“The Station” consists of two integrated parts, one focusing on contemporary art — including works by rising artists (and, well, friends of the curators) like Rita Ackermann, Hanna Liden, Ryan McGinley and Rob Pruitt — and the other based around a series of performances taking place in the 6,000-square-foot raw ground floor location, where the concrete was not even poured yet. There, a mix of scene-stealers like Terence Koh, the New Humans and Lansing-Dreiden (separately and throughout the show’s run) will perform.
Beyond any sort of art-punk shock value, the highlight of the show is Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s site-specific installation “Hello Meth Lab With a View.” On the third floor of the exhibition space, Freeman and Lowe have recreated the interior of a deserted meth lab. The space is a compelling series of rooms and corridors running through a charred room and ending on the balcony overlooking Midtown Miami. Collections of chemical bottles, hoses, cans of paint thinner, dozens of boxes of cold medicine, and bottles of drain cleaners are strewn about, and crude shelves in an oddly cozy living room are lined with jars and taxidermy — all constructed in what should be a luxury condo. This isn’t “pretty art”; in fact, its interactive, D.I.Y. assemblage of rooms invites you to open the refrigerator doors, climb up the ladders and literally get your hands dirty. The piece is not only an intelligent re-creation of the underground economies that flourish in times of great financial uncertainty, but also a shining reminder that some of the best art cannot be neatly packaged into a high-priced commodity.
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